Starting two years ago, in 2018, I set specific goals for myself for the year. 2018 and 2019 went very well and I decided to keep at it this year. I’ve heard that few people keep their resolutions. I suspect it’s because, in part, many goals are general: lose weight, exercise more, drink less and so on or they are just plain daunting: run a marathon, get a graduate degree, backpack across Europe, and so on. My little resolutions are just that. Little. I look at areas of my life that need work and commit to very specific goals. I write them down and keep track on simple, loose-leaf paper. I guess if you had a proper computer (I don’t) you could make fancy files. For me, seeing the accomplishments written down – and adding entries – is part of the pleasure. People who like to make lists will probably understand this!
I have a lot of down-time in winter so it’s a perfect time to get started. Having specific plans in mind helps a lot – it keeps me from being aimless or frittering away my time. Also, this winter the local public library was closed for two months for renovations, and as I am very dependent on the library and its various resources, it meant I needed to occupy myself elsewhere.
I have re-booted my reading habit (which I’d let slip) with a goal of 20 books in both 2018 and 2019. I exceeded those so for 2020 the goal is 30 books. This month (January) I’ve read 7 books and started on an eighth. Knowing that the library would be closed, I planned in advance and trotted around to the little free libraries in my community to make sure I had reading material. There are five(!) “mini libraries” within walking distance of where I live which is terrific. (If you know me and would like to know where they are all are, feel free to ask.) Because I was using the little libraries, I re-read two excellent books, Elie Wiesel’s Night and Jeannette Wall’s The Glass Castle.
I watched a lot of dvds and series in 2019. A lot. I decided that I needed to cut back. I’ve watched just four DVDs and no series this month. I am effectively taking what has become a habit and turning it back into a treat. (When I was a kid, movies were a rare treat and that added to how special they were.) Also, as is the case with books, a lot of movies just aren’t all that; maybe they’re average or even mediocre. I’d rather watch less and enjoy them more, if that makes sense. The other week I happened to catch most of What Lies Beneath, a 2000 Harrison Ford/Michelle Pfeiffer film on TV and was so engaged that after I found it in the library system and watched the whole thing from the start (and without any scenes missing to add commercials). I don’t know how I missed this film when it first came out; it’s just my kind of movie. A psychological thriller that’s just scary enough (in the the Alfred Hitchcock vein). I see that RottenTomatoes.com doesn’t care for this film; oh well.
It’s been important to me this winter to make sure that I occupy myself by myself, without all the outside distractions and plays for my attention. I have kept my own counsel. It feels really good. I like being online but I want to be sure I can entertain myself without being online and without relying on “entertainment.” It is so easy to spend time online or to watch movies; it takes more effort on my part to do other activities.
Starting last year, yoga has become a more regular part of my life. My goal this year is to do the “sun salutation” (a series of poses that take all of five minutes) fifty times. I plan to do 20 longer sessions with the help of instructional DVDs. I found a new favorite, Mia Togo. I also like Tara Stiles. (I haven’t found a man with a yoga DVD that I like – so far). This month I’ve done the sun salutation four times and longer yoga sessions also four times. I never feel like yoga is time wasted.
I am always getting rid of things (trash, recycle, giveaway) but now I keep track and set goals. I got rid of a ton of stuff in 2019 and set a goal of getting rid of 50 things for 2020. I’ve already got 23 things on the list so I am sure I’ll exceed the goal. De-cluttering, culling, letting go of excess and things that no longer suit, feels fabulous. I like the idea that it “frees up space” in every sense of the phrase.
Last year I wanted to strengthen mind and body and I think I did that. I still want that goal. On New Year’s Day I went to a playground (no one else was there) and made sure I could still do a few “tricks” on the bars. My able assistant Gumby demonstrated as a stand-in for me in a post last year. I also made sure I could climb the pole at another playground. I don’t like climbing the pole but I think it’s good for me to know I can.
In 2019 my blogging friend at Pistachios Conspiracy #63 mentioned trying to do a pull-up. We had a brief exchange about attempting that in 2019. She accomplished it but I didn’t really try but once (and I hadn’t made it a real goal). She mentioned jumping up to do it so on New Year’s Day I tried that. Three times in a row I jumped up and tried to reach the bar but it just wasn’t happening. In the middle of the night I woke up and several body parts were hurting that hadn’t been before! I think a) when I try I should try only once per “session” and b) I’ll call it a success if I can touch my chin to the bar. (In my New Year’s attempts I realized, as I was straining mightily, that I didn’t have a clear idea of what I could call a successful pull-up.) My goal is eight attempts. Admittedly, I haven’t tried again since the New Year’s day attempt but perhaps this weekend….
Blogger Don’t Curse the Nurse recently mentioned (in lieu of doing a pull-up) that she’d accomplished a “three-minute plank.” I knew what planks were but hadn’t heard of a three-minute one. This sounded like a good challenge so I immediately tried it. I did do a three minute plank but I did stick my butt up in the air briefly three times to alter the position. It is hard! The fronts of my shoulder sockets were feeling it immediately; this isn’t a body part I even think about but I did during the three minute plank. Yowee.
I went back and forth about mentioning this next goal because I wondered if I should just do it and keep quiet about it. Anyway, it’s a goal of doing “good deeds.” I routinely try to do good things in my life but I thought that if I made a specific goal (of 20) I’d be more conscious of the idea in general. (I have heard of goals where people do good deeds that sound kind of forced/disingenuous to me and I don’t want to do that; I want it to be genuine and freely done.) The idea is that I’ll do something good for someone else – or something beneficial to multiple people – without any expectation of a reward of any kind. It doesn’t have to be huge but it has to be more than holding a door for someone or picking up a piece of trash. It can’t be routine things I do all the time. I want to make a little effort. Maybe I already do 20 such things (or more) a year but I absolutely have no idea so far as a number. And I’ve said this several times on the blog but I strongly maintain that if you are too taxed yourself (from work, or a problem, or stress, or depression or grief or any of the kinds of things that sap strength and motivation) you typically don’t have a lot of extra to give. I am feeling less taxed in my life and feel I have a bit more to offer. That’s the impetus behind this goal.
I am fairly new to Scrabble but I love it. I was playing with some people but not enjoying it that much (too much arguing) so I practice by playing against myself. It’s definitely good for me. It makes me think. Last summer I got a great deal from Amazon and bought a board. I have a goal of playing (against myself) ten times this year. I’ve already done a few sessions so that’s an easy goal. In an effort to find someone to play against, I put a notice on a local bulletin board earlier in the month. However, because I don’t entirely trust such things, I asked for someone who was “reasonably normal” and “reasonably good-natured” for fun, competitive games. Nobody responded. I thought I’d shake at least somebody out of the trees but no! I may try another ad but frankly, I am wary of who it might attract (hence the requests for normalcy and good nature).
My year is off to a really good start with this month. I want to mention one other thing that happened (this month) that is not goal-related but deserves a mention. Somehow I won a $5 Amazon gift card from blogger Becky. I didn’t know I was in the running so that was a lovely surprise!